Soup kitchen expands amid questions over customers - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Soup kitchen expands amid questions over customers

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Drawing showing the soup kitchen expansion. Drawing showing the soup kitchen expansion.
Part of the line waiting outside Franciscan Kitchen for a meal. Part of the line waiting outside Franciscan Kitchen for a meal.
Our video recorded work release inmates being dropped at Franciscan Kitchen and picked up an hour later. Our video recorded work release inmates being dropped at Franciscan Kitchen and picked up an hour later.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The WAVE 3 News investigation showing Louisville Metro public works and corrections vehicles lining up daily outside the Franciscan Kitchen and workers going in to eat food meant for the homeless wasn't really news to John Rowan.

"I heard about it about a year ago, when we talked to the city workers," said Rowan, a board member of Franciscan Kitchen, located at 748 S. Preston St.

Rowan said they complained about full time workers and work release inmates eating meals meant for the homeless. Louisville Metro Government confirms a memo went out telling full timers to stop eating there.

"To me, I think it's an embarrassment to the city," said Rowan. "I can't see why they want to come down here."

What was news to Rowan was our video showing work release inmates being dropped off there and picked up an hour later.

"The idea that really shocked me was when they had an adult leader with them, drop them off at our front door and come back and pick them up," said Rowan. "These aren't harsh criminals, but I do believe they need to be supervised."

It's a situation that's trying the Franciscans' policy of not turning anyone away.

"That's questionable. I think they should probably go someplace else to eat," said Dan Magruder, a board member of Franciscan Kitchen.

On this day, Franciscan Kitchen broke ground on a soup kitchen expansion. The expansion is needed because they are struggling to keep up with a 400% explosion in homeless mouths to feed.

"The line for us on many days, especially toward the end of the month, goes all the way to the end of this block," said Chuck Mattingly, director of Franciscan Kitchen. "That's when we do 450 - 500 people."

Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer was not at the groundbreaking, although the Franciscans said he was invited. Yesterday, Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Fischer, watched our video and announced a policy change.

"Now that you've brought this to our attention, we've thought about it and we're going to talk to the Franciscans," said Poynter. "Going to pay the Franciscans. Sometimes when you look at things in a new light, you need to do the right thing, and we're going to do the right thing."

"I think the city understands there was a fault, a loophole they were jumping through," said Rowan. "Now that WAVE did the report on it, called it to their attention, hopefully things do improve. If they do want to come in and they're paid a fair amount, that just helps us feed another mouth."

Mattingly said he is meeting with the city on May 9 to work out an acceptable compensation plan to continue feeding city workers. The new, expanded Franciscan Kitchen hopes to be operational by late October.

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